Anne Frank's memoir holds up today because, even though she was in a surreal situation, she is a relateable teen girl. Anne's amazing diary has transported teens to that Secret Annex where she was cloistered with Peter's family, and of course, to her tragic end at the hands of the Nazis.
Her writing is so fresh and clear that she becomes your friend, your sister, your cousin. She learns to adapt to her harrowing experiences by being a teen girl -- embarrassments, outbursts, crushes and all.
But a mom in Michigan feels that Anne may have been a little too real, and says that a passage in the newest edition, The Diary of A Young Girl: The Definitive Guide is too "pornographic" for her daughter.
[The Diary has gone through a number of edits since it was published in the Netherlands in 1947. Anne's father, who survived the death camps, took some passages out that have been added back in for the more recent editions.]
In the passage, Anne writes about discovering her vagina. She is extremely knowledgable and uses the terms labia and clitoris:
Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn't realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn't see them. What's even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris…When you're standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you're standing, so you can't see what's inside. They separate when you sit down and they're very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there's a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That's the clitoris." (from Jezebel)
The Michigan mother has complained to the school board that she should have received notice that her daughter was going to read "pornographic" passages in the novel.
I guess this mom hasn't read too much pornography, or spent too much time on the Internet, or even a teen's Facebook page, because this is simple biology. A girl of 13 should be able to name her parts.
She says she brought the complaint forward because her daughter told her that there were some graphic passages were making her "uncomfortable".
I sure hope so. Anne Frank should make you uncomfortable. It should make a 13-year-old uncomfortable to know that it could have been her living in a tiny annex for two years. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to know that if I was living in Amsterdam in 1942, I would have been hiding with my children in someone's basement or attic -- and that is the best case scenario.
The fact that Anne, like most teens, had sexual feelings should make her more real. It certainly does not make the book something to be banned.
I am not saying this woman is anti-semitic. But the fact that she would talk to the news and bring this forward publicly tells me that she wants her daughter to stay ignorant, and she chooses to focus on a very small part of a bigger picture. The fact that her crusade distracts from the Anne Frank's message tells me something about her -- and it's not good.
She will have her 15 minutes of fame. And when she is long forgotten, Anne Frank's memory will live on.
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about anxiety caused by the news that there is arsenic in apple juice.